Northern Trust Asset Management Introduces ESG Vector Score

·7 min read

Industry-first Approach Provides Greater Clarity to Assess a Company’s ESG Related Business Issues

Northern Trust Asset Management (NTAM) introduced today the Northern Trust ESG Vector ScoreTM, a measurement that assesses publicly traded companies in the context of financially relevant environmental, social and governance (ESG) related criteria that could impact their operating performance. It can be used in constructing and managing investment portfolios and stewardship activities.

The ESG Vector Score focuses on the magnitude and direction of key ESG related business issues likely to have a financial impact on companies and hence a portfolio’s performance. It provides a consistent, transparent methodology to gain greater clarity when building and managing sustainable portfolios.

"The Score aligns with the firm’s philosophy that investors should be compensated for the risks they take – in all market environments and any investment strategy. We consider this an essential tool to measure how a company is managing its ESG business risks," NTAM president Shundrawn Thomas said.

NTAM’s industry-first approach marries two leading sustainability disclosure standards and frameworks – the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s (SASB) Standards, which are industry-specific sustainability disclosure standards focused on financial materiality, and the thematic structure of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD) Recommendations. The design enables more purposeful and transparent integration of ESG considerations into investment processes, addressing the need for a consistent way to measure and report on ESG investments.

As demand for ESG-driven investing has accelerated, so too has the number of data providers – each with varying information, reporting components and levels of transparency. This has created significant confusion and subjectivity for investors to assess the magnitude and direction of individual companies’ ESG-related issues. Concerned by the numerous ESG methodologies and data sets available, investors have expressed the need for a more transparent and disciplined framework that focuses only on the ESG-related business issues that could impact the financial condition of a company – and ultimately their portfolio’s investment return.

"What’s unique about Northern Trust’s multi-dimensional score is that we built it by applying TCFD’s anticipatory framework on governance, strategy and risk management – beyond simply climate – to all ESG risks across the SASB Standards, resulting in a comprehensive assessment," NTAM head of global product Sheri Hawkins said.

"Our ESG Vector Score leverages the practical insights we’ve gained over the past 30 years helping some of the most sophisticated and progressive global investors integrate ESG criteria into their investment portfolios," Thomas said. "Managing more than $139 billion of ESG assets, we’ve observed firsthand the challenges of navigating the increasing volume of data providers, varying information, and levels of transparency as interest in ESG investing has accelerated. The Score solves this challenge, strengthening our ability to have a clearer picture of a company’s ESG-related business risks that could impact its performance."

The firm’s recently launched ETFs in EMEA incorporate the use of the ESG Vector Score. Further, it plans on integrating the Score into new equity and fixed income ESG investment strategies they are building. This will enable NTAM to offer investors ESG-integrated "building blocks" with a singular, consistent ESG framework. "A full multi-asset suite of products with a consistent sustainability methodology across asset classes is a current gap in the marketplace. The Score marks an important foundational step in filling it," Hawkins said.

Hawkins further stated that "NTAM plans on using the ESG Vector Score to assist in prioritizing its corporate engagement, thus further aligning our sustainable investment platform and stewardship. This allows us to lead more deliberate engagements, as well as track progress over time with a consistent metric."

Since ESG reporting and requirements are continually maturing, NTAM designed the ESG Vector Score framework intentionally as open-architecture, allowing for the flexibility of incorporating additional best-in-class data as it becomes available. This will enable it to support multiple data sources and new industry requirements over time.

About Northern Trust Asset Management

Northern Trust Asset Management is a global investment manager that helps investors navigate changing market environments, so they can confidently realize their long-term objectives. Entrusted with US$1.1 trillion of investor assets as of March 31, 2021, we understand that investing ultimately serves a greater purpose and believe investors should be compensated for the risks they take — in all market environments and any investment strategy. That’s why we combine robust capital markets research, expert portfolio construction and comprehensive risk management to craft innovative and efficient solutions that deliver targeted investment outcomes. As engaged contributors to our communities, we consider it a great privilege to serve our investors and our communities with integrity, respect, and transparency.

Northern Trust Asset Management is composed of Northern Trust Investments, Inc., Northern Trust Global Investments Limited, Northern Trust Fund Managers (Ireland) Limited, Northern Trust Global Investments Japan, K.K., NT Global Advisors, Inc., 50 South Capital Advisors, LLC, Belvedere Advisors LLC and investment personnel of The Northern Trust Company of Hong Kong Limited and The Northern Trust Company.

About Northern Trust

Northern Trust Corporation (Nasdaq: NTRS) is a leading provider of wealth management, asset servicing, asset management and banking to corporations, institutions, affluent families and individuals. Founded in Chicago in 1889, Northern Trust has a global presence with offices in 22 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., and across 23 locations in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. As of March 31, 2021, Northern Trust had assets under custody/administration of US$14.8 trillion, and assets under management of US$1.4 trillion. For more than 130 years, Northern Trust has earned distinction as an industry leader for exceptional service, financial expertise, integrity and innovation. Please visit our website or follow us on Twitter.

Northern Trust Corporation, Head Office: 50 South La Salle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603 U.S.A., incorporated with limited liability in the U.S. Please read our global and regulatory information.

About SASB

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) connects businesses and investors on the financial impacts of sustainability. SASB Standards enable businesses around the world to identify, manage, and communicate financially material sustainability information to investors. SASB Standards are industry-specific and are designed to be decision-useful for investors and cost-effective for companies. They are developed using a process that is evidence based and market informed. To download any of the 77 industry-specific standards, or learn more about SASB, please visit SASB.org.

About TCFD

The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was established in 2015 by the Financial Stability Board to improve and increase reporting of climate-related financial information. The TCFD developed and published voluntary, consistent climate-related financial disclosure recommendations for use by companies in providing information to lenders, insurers, investors and other stakeholders.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION. This information is directed to eligible counterparties and professional clients only and should not be relied upon by retail investors. The information is not intended for distribution or use by any person in any jurisdiction where such distribution would be contrary to local law or regulation. This report is provided for informational purposes only, does not take into account the individual circumstances of each investor and is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, an offer, solicitation or recommendation with respect to any transaction and should not be treated as legal advice, investment advice or tax advice. The information is believed to be correct and accurate but may be subject to change without notice.

Investing involves risk- no investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee returns or eliminate risk in any market environment.

© 2021 Northern Trust Corporation. Head Office: 50 South La Salle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603 U.S.A.

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Contacts

Europe, Middle East, Africa & Asia-Pacific
Camilla Greene
+44 (0) 207 982 2176
Camilla_Greene@ntrs.com

US & Canada
Tom Pinto
+1 212 339 7288
Tom_Pinto@ntrs.com

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